Sustainability communication and employee involvement – best practices
Anyone who talks about sustainability is under general suspicion.
But what actually makes sustainability communication so special? Philipp Schär answered this question at the eighth network meeting of the Hamburg tax authority. 30 sustainability managers from public companies – such as city cleaning, public transport, municipal daycare centers, energy plants, housing construction – were particularly interested in measures and best practices for internal sustainability communication and employee involvement as well as how greenwashing traps can be avoided.
In addition to experiences from the projects #Project1Hour, Hamburg Wasser, Audi Environmental Week, VWGS IMPACT DAY and Röhm, Philipp Schär gave the participants i. a. the following key learnings at hand.
We at fors.earth always work with the following triad in our customer projects:
We will go through this triad using the example of #Project1Hour – probably the largest climate workshop series in the world.
1. BE IT
In order to have an authentic and meaningful say on the topic of sustainability, companies should earn the right to participate in a sustainability conversation. If you don't have anything to contribute, it's better not to participate.
It is always individual people who can make a contribution. Companies do well:
- to locate these people – and no, they are not necessarily to be found in the dedicated sustainability department
- to give these people freedom to create
- to treat these people well
2. DO IT
It goes without saying that words should be followed by actions. Important: THINK BIG, because things will get smaller on their own. Perseverance helps here – especially in larger companies. In April 2021, 250,000 employees took part in the first #Project1Hour. In 2022 there were 300,000. In 2023, the impact of #Project1Hour became even greater thanks to the over 500,000 employees at Volkswagen dealers. This gave over a million people the opportunity to take part in the largest climate workshop in the world.
Especially when it comes to internal communication, it is important to communicate the process and not just the results.
There is nothing wrong with sharing knowledge and experiences. As part of this year's third #Project1Hour, the Volkswagen Group provided materials and information – true to the motto: Sharing is Caring.
3. SAY IT
Anyone who says something enters into a dialogue with others. Being able to withstand criticism for your actions separates the wheat from the chaff. Only a company that has an attitude can withstand criticism. And sometimes it comes from Greenpeace:
A positive indicator that a company is on the right track: employees are happy and proud to talk about their actions. In the best case scenario, a competition will even emerge as a Race for Impact:
Here we have summarized 10 learnings from three years of #Project1Hour:
“In our work with companies, we see again and again how important internal communication is. Taking everyone along and communicating authentically about the goals and progress is crucial for whether something actually moves in the company or whether the sustainability strategy remains just a paper tiger.” (Philipp Schär)
Many thanks also to Theresa Kiunke and Lars Christiansen from our client Hamburg Wasser, who were available for the joint Q & A after the lecture.
If you would like to communicate more sustainably with your employees and customers, please contact us. Whether sustainability communication training or a specific project, the most important thing is to take action.